Grants for writers

Most au­thors make a liv­ing through mul­tiple in­come streams. These in­clude book ad­vances, roy­al­ties and spin off arti­cles, as well as fees for for­eign dis­tri­bu­tion, movie rights, etc. Authors in Canada may also re­ceive an­nu­al pay­ments from the Public Lending Right Program and Access Copyright. Many coun­tries have sim­il­ar programs.

And then there are grants. These usu­ally in­volve a cash pay­ment of $500 to $20,000 and can buy a writer time for re­search and writ­ing or cov­er travel ex­penses re­lated to their pro­ject. Different coun­tries, states and provinces and some mu­ni­cip­al­it­ies of­fer grants to writers.

Some grants avail­able to writers in British Columbia, Canada, where I live include:

BC Arts Council

The Canada Council for the Arts

Access Copyright Foundation 

You can check out the links page at The Writers’ Union of Canada to find more Canadian arts or­gan­iz­a­tions that provide grants to writers.

Applying for a grant is tempt­ing and some writers make a good por­tion of their in­come this way. Obtaining fund­ing can mean the dif­fer­ence between fin­ish­ing a book in a timely man­ner or hav­ing to space the pro­ject out over time due to tak­ing on oth­er short term writ­ing gigs to pay the bills.

But grants are a lot of work. Most re­quire a de­tailed out­line of your pro­ject, a budget, a re­sume, a list of pub­lic­a­tion cred­its, let­ters of ref­er­ence and writ­ing samples. I re­cently ap­plied for an Access Copyright Foundation Research grant for the book I’m writ­ing about cougars.

I’ve writ­ten – and re­ceived – grants in the past so sat down to de­term­ine how much time this ap­plic­a­tion would take. I es­tim­ated two long, full days at the most. At the end of five days I staggered out of my of­fice clutch­ing a 28-page document.

Do I think the time spent was worth it? If I get the grant, the an­swer will be a re­sound­ing “Yes!” But even if I don’t re­ceive any money, it was still a worth­while endeavor.

Why? Because it forced me to cre­ate a de­tailed plan for an im­port­ant as­pect of my re­search. I now know who I want to con­tact and what I want to ask them. I also have a pro­jec­ted timeline of how long the re­search will take. (I don’t know if that last bit should make me happy or want to cry — if my es­tim­ate of the grant ap­plic­a­tion pro­cess is any­thing to go by, the re­search will take at least twice as long as I ex­pect it to!)

So, if you’re think­ing of ap­ply­ing for a grant, be sure to weigh the time com­mit­ment against the be­ne­fits. That said, an im­port­ant thing to re­mem­ber: If you nev­er ap­ply for a grant, you’ll nev­er get one.




The power of words

Words are in­cred­ible. We use them to de­scribe our dreams, share our ex­per­i­ences and tell stor­ies from the past. They can pro­voke tears and laughter; gen­er­ate an­ger, trust, com­pas­sion and fear. What else is so powerful?

Words are a writer­’s most im­port­ant tool. They re­veal facts, ex­plain what’s go­ing on and  paint verbal im­ages of people, places and per­cep­tions. And de­pend­ing on what word we se­lect, our sen­tences have power and im­pact or are ho-hum, me­diocre or even tedious.

Take two minutes to view a great ex­ample of The Power of Words. In this case, a pic­ture (okay, a video) really is worth 1,000 words.